11th December 2012
The RSPB Telegraph Awards celebrate the work farmers across the UK carry out to support and encourage wildlife on their farms and they’re open to all farmers, whatever their chosen system. For a number of years JSR has worked hard to ensure that its farming practices do not impact negatively on flora and fauna.
For example, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) along a watercourse running through the farm is managed under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) as a semi-wetland habitat for breeding waders, while 20 hectares of short-rotation coppice willow is grown commercially but managed sensitively, with adjacent margins populated with nectar flower mixes and wild bird seed mix. The 665 ha farm also boasts 22.5 hectares of mature and recently planted mixed woodland and a number of ponds that have been created or improved.
The company’s Arable Technical Director Philip Huxtable has been instrumental in establishing sound environmental practices and explains why JSR have invested in these particular projects.
He said: “These habitats were chosen because they are typical of the wider landscape around Southburn. They can be easily integrated within an existing commercial enterprise and benefit both effective farm management and environmental enhancement.
Philip Huxtable worked closely with JSR’s environmental specialist Mark Richardson and independent environmental consultant Alison Clayton to ensure the company met the award criteria and continues to encourage and maintain biodiversity across all of its sites.
As well as protecting any SSSIs on the site and managing woodland and coppicing to benefit wildlife, JSR, which also has a large herd of breeding and production pigs, also make sure they make the most effective and economic use of slurry and farmyard manure. This in turn helps to improve surface water quality on the farm and surrounding area.
Work to improve Eastburn Beck, a chalk stream that runs through the farm, has also reduced sedimentation and soil erosion in order to benefit the indigenous population of brown trout and JSR are also working hard to increase opportunities for farmland bird species on the farm, including lapwing, corn bunting, tree sparrow, linnet and grey partridge.
David Morris, the RSPB’s regional farmland bird advisor for the North West, was impressed with JSR’s award entry. He said: “I was really impressed with the commitment that JSR had to the environment and provides an excellent flagship for the industry that they should be proud of.
“I'm confident with more farms; spanning such an area as JSR’s, with such habitats, farmland biodiversity would be in a good state.”
JSR chairman Tim Rymer is rightfully proud of the firm’s commitment to biodiversity and feels that incorporating wildlife management into the everyday running of the business is not just a luxury, it’s a necessity.
“We acknowledge that our arable crops offer a habitat in their own right and therefore integrated crop management is practiced at Southburn and across all our farms. We operate a rotation which includes vining peas and potatoes, which allows us to incorporate over-wintered stubbles into our environmental policy.
“We are a LEAF Demonstration Farm and have been since 2001 showing best practice Integrated Farm Management to a wide audience. We consider the interface between environmental options and commercial crops is indistinct and that timely cultivations and operations, sensitive hedge and margin cutting regimes to avoid disturbance to nesting birds and an awareness by all staff of our commitment to sustainable agriculture are essential to the success of any agri-environmental policy.”
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